Being able to run the football takes an attitude, a certain mentality and toughness. Taking to the ground is the very essences of what the sport was built on and is the foundation of the game itself.
Many coaches will tell you, at any level of play, a consistent ground game is the first step into becoming a successful offense.
For the Linden High School football team, the ground game was its lifeline on Friday night.
An offense that ran the football on 28 of its 29 plays in the second half, parlayed its dominant second half rushing performance into a 23-0 NJSIAA North 2 Group V victory at Don Ahern Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Bayonne.
“We just believed in our big guys, Linden coach Deon Candia said after the game. “We have some senior leadership on our offensive line and we saw something in our blocking in which we had to correct. We told our guys that it was about heart and determination. It was all up to our lineman and our backfield. They did a great job.”
For a group that rushed for only 65 yards in the first half, doubled that total in the second half by racking up 179 yards, most of which came from junior tailback Juwan Dolbrice.
A 5-foot-11, 180 pounder, Dolbrice entered last nights’ contest on the heels of back-to-back 100-yard performances against Watchung Hills (18 carries, 129 yards two weeks ago) and Bridgewater-Raritan (19 carries, 139 yards last week).
After the clock hit zero against Bayonne (5-5), Dolbrice finished with his third straight 100-yard contest.
Scoreless after one half of play, the Tigers (6-3) got on the board in the third quarter thanks to hard-nosed 5-yard touchdown run by junior Kyle Phipps, who broke four tackles en route to paydirt.
A 22-yard field goal by junior kicker Corey Ampey made the score 9-0 heading into the final period.
It was there that Dolbrice ripped off his two biggest runs of the night.
After the Linden defense sacked Bayonne quarterback Zymire Gordon on fourth-and-nine, the fourth sack of the night for the Tigers, its offense took over at its own 19-yard line with 5:30 to go in regulation.
On their second play of the drive, Dolbrice broke through a hole on the right side and raced 54 yards down the sideline.
Three plays later, he capped off his superb night with a 21-yard touchdown run.
L-Phipps 5 run (kick blocked)
L-Ampey 22 FG
L-Dolbrice 21 run (Ampey kick)
L-Morgan 38 interception return (Ampey kick)